Navigation Links
New kind of optical fiber developed

A team of scientists led by John Badding, a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, has developed the very first optical fiber made with a core of zinc selenide -- a light-yellow compound that can be used as a semiconductor. The new class of optical fiber, which allows for a more effective and liberal manipulation of light, promises to open the door to more versatile laser-radar technology. Such technology could be applied to the development of improved surgical and medical lasers, better countermeasure lasers used by the military, and superior environment-sensing lasers such as those used to measure pollutants and to detect the dissemination of bioterrorist chemical agents. The team's research will be published in the journal Advanced Materials.

"It has become almost a clich to say that optical fibers are the cornerstone of the modern information age," said Badding. "These long, thin fibers, which are three times as thick as a human hair, can transmit over a terabyte -- the equivalent of 250 DVDs -- of information per second. Still, there always are ways to improve on existing technology." Badding explained that optical-fiber technology always has been limited by the use of a glass core. "Glass has a haphazard arrangement of atoms," Badding said. "In contrast, a crystalline substance like zinc selenide is highly ordered. That order allows light to be transported over longer wavelengths, specifically those in the mid-infrared."

Unlike silica glass, which traditionally is used in optical fibers, zinc selenide is a compound semiconductor. "We've known for a long time that zinc selenide is a useful compound, capable of manipulating light in ways that silica can't," Badding said. "The trick was to get this compound into a fiber structure, something that had never been done before." Using an innovative high-pressure chemical-deposition technique developed by Justin Sparks, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry, Badding and his team deposited zinc selenide waveguiding cores inside of silica glass capillaries to form the new class of optical fibers. "The high-pressure deposition is unique in allowing formation of such long, thin, zinc selenide fiber cores in a very confined space," Badding said.

The scientists found that the optical fibers made of zinc selenide could be useful in two ways. First, they observed that the new fibers were more efficient at converting light from one color to another. "When traditional optical fibers are used for signs, displays, and art, it's not always possible to get the colors you want," Badding explained. "Zinc selenide, using a process called nonlinear frequency conversion, is more capable of changing colors."

Second, as Badding and his team expected, they found that the new class of fiber provided more versatility not just in the visible spectrum, but also in the infrared -- electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths longer than those of visible light. Existing optical-fiber technology is inefficient at transmitting infrared light. However, the zinc selenide optical fibers that Badding's team developed are able to transmit the longer wavelengths of infrared light. "Exploiting these wavelengths is exciting because it represents a step toward making fibers that can serve as infrared lasers," Badding explained. "For example, the military currently uses laser-radar technology that can handle the near-infrared, or 2 to 2.5-micron range. A device capable of handling the mid-infrared, or over 5-micron range would be more accurate. The fibers we created can transmit wavelengths of up to 15 microns."

Badding also explained that the detection of pollutants and environmental toxins could be yet another application of better laser-radar technology capable of interacting with light of longer wavelengths. "Different molecules absorb light of different wavelengths; for example, water absorbs, or stops, light at the wavelengths of 2.6 microns," Badding said. "But the molecules of certain pollutants or other toxic substances may absorb light of much longer wavelengths. If we can transport light over longer wavelengths through the atmosphere, we can see what substances are out there much more clearly." In addition, Badding mentioned that zinc selenide optical fibers also may open new avenues of research that could improve laser-assisted surgical techniques, such as corrective eye surgery.


Contact: Barbara Kennedy
Penn State

Related biology technology :

1. Boston College receives W.M. Keck Foundation funding for nanoscale optical microscope
2. New materials may bring advanced optical technologies, cloaking
3. Iowa State, Ames Lab physicist developing, improving designer optical materials
4. All-optical transistor
5. Essilor to Acquire 50% of Shamir Optical
6. Optical chip enables new approach to quantum computing
7. An optical traffic cop for rapid communication
8. Small optical force can budge nanoscale objects
9. Reportlinker Adds Worldwide Optical, Transmission TEM, and Scanning SEM Electron Microscope Market Shares, Strategies, and Forecasts, 2009 to 2015
10. New nanolaser key to future optical computers and technologies
11. Shamir Optical Industry Ltd. Announces Availability of Its Annual Report on Form 20-F Through Its Website
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - ProMetic Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: PLI) ... Pierre Laurin , President and Chief Executive Officer of ... Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference to be ... 2015. st , at 8.50am (ET) and ... the day. The presentation will be available live via a ...
(Date:11/24/2015)...  PDL BioPharma, Inc. (PDL) (NASDAQ: PDLI ) today ... and chief executive officer, will present at the 27 th ... New York City . The presentation will be ... at 9:30 a.m. EST. and go ... least 15 minutes prior to the presentation to allow for ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... According to two new studies, fewer men are having PSA ... doctors, scientists, and public health experts have been pushing for ... being done, will there be more men dying of ... "Despite the efforts made in regards to early detection for ... of death in men, killing approximately 27,500 men this year. ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... 23, 2015 China Cord Blood Corporation (NYSE: ... provider of cord blood collection, laboratory testing, hematopoietic stem ... its preliminary unaudited financial results for the second quarter ... 30, 2015. --> --> ... Revenues for the second quarter of fiscal 2016 increased ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:10/29/2015)... MINNETONKA, Minn. , Oct. 29, 2015   ... that supports the entire spectrum of clinical research, is ... the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) as one of ... in the "Software – Small and Growing" category. The ... and individuals who have shown superior technology innovation and ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... October 29, 2015 NXTD ... company focused on the growing mobile commerce market ... that StackCommerce, a leading marketplace to discover and ... Wocket® smart wallet on StackSocial for this holiday ... or the "Company"), a biometric authentication company focused ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... , October 26, 2015 ... --> adds Biometrics Market ... 2021 as well as Emerging Biometrics ... reports to its collection of IT ... . --> ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):